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COVID’19 tests national systems as media gets high score for overall coverage

…Cases hit 209

The overall media coverage of COVID ’19 by Nigerian media is scored high by communication experts who underlined the exhibited professionalism and balanced stories about the pandemic.

However some analysts still believe that more is still needed from the media to dig deep and interrogate certain actions or inactions to slow the progress of the pandemic which has tested national systems including the health sector and Nigeria’s preparedness to such sudden developments.

Over the last four months, media consumption has increased, according to a survey by Kantar, as the public is anxious to get more information about coronavirus but the traditional media – broadcast and newspapers – is considered trustworthy in giving more accurate information over social media with less trust by the public.

“The media has lived up to expectations of the public”, says Charles Igbinidu, Managing Director of CFO and Associates Public Relations. He agrees that though there is a level of tension over avalanche of information but said without the information more Nigerians would be ignorant about the disease.

Read also: Covid-19: NPDC donates medical equipment to Delta

To the CEO of Neo Media, Ehi Braimah, the coverage has been appropriate and professional excluding the fake news dwelling on inaccurate COVID’19 myths.

In his comment, John Kokome, a public affairs analyst also agrees that the Nigerian media is doing its bets within the circumstance it has found itself but said that the media can do more by digging deep to uncover question Nigerian government preparedness to such occurrences.

For instance, when the virus started spreading from

China, what actions did countries like Nigeria take to forestall its entry into the country and how were such actions implemented. Fortunately, Nigeria attempted to be proactive by demanding self-isolation of entrants into Nigeria but its implementation was sedentary as even government officials that returned attended meetings.

The spread of the pandemic has also questioned Nigeria’s health sector’s preparedness to such national and global issues. It is important that much relief amounting to about N15.3 billion however came from the private sector’s intervention to obviate the pandemic from overwhelming Nigeria.

While Abiodun Sulaimon, a media analyst based in Nigeria urged Nigerian media to continue to dig deep on more facts about COVID’19, George Ogola, writing in Bizcommunity believed that African media should develop alternative measures on WHO recommendations that are appropriate to Africa.

“WHO has urged the public to implement a number of measures. These have included social distancing and self-isolation. In addition, governments are increasingly imposing quarantines. These measures have been legitimised by the international news media. They’ve also been reproduced largely uncontested across Africa – from Johannesburg to Nairobi to Lagos.

“Unsurprisingly therefore, governments across the continent have instituted the WHO guidelines and followed in the footsteps of Europe, China and the US”.

Ogola believed that the African media has failed to develop an alternative narrative by encouraging the WHO and governments to ensure measures are appropriate for local conditions.

“For example, social distancing, self-isolation and quarantines are largely impractical in a number of African countries”, Ogola said in the recent writeup entitled ‘Why Africa’s journalists aren’t doing a good job on Covid-19’

While Nigerian media has done well especially in drawing President Buhari out of his reticent disposition to speak to Nigerians and providing Nigerians measures to deal with COVID’19, media experts believe that this pandemic which is spreading in spite of the measures has provided much opportunity for the media to critically look at the nation’s health system, the medics and preparation of Nigeria to such pandemics.

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